Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Making room under the Gazebo: Accommodating newcomers and power users alike

Louise Poubel (Open Source Robotics Foundation)
5:05pm5:45pm Thursday, May 11, 2017
Collaboration and Community
Location: Meeting Room 9C
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 1 rating)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Contributors for small projects interested in growing their community

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Experience maintaining open source software

What you'll learn

  • Learn some simple but powerful ideas for broadening your user base that you can implement straight away


In large part, the recent advancements in robotics have been made possible by open source tools. The Open Source Robotics Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development, distribution, and adoption of open source software in robotics, supports two main projects—ROS (Robot Operating System) and Gazebo, a multirobot simulator—both of which are widely used by the global robotics community, including industry, academia, and hobbyists.

Gazebo is a simulator that calculates rigid-body dynamics, generates all kinds of sensor data, and allows user interaction through both a C++ API and a powerful graphical interface. Some of the uses for Gazebo include robotics competitions like the DARPA Robotics Challenge, continuous integration, prototyping, and education.

In its 14 years, Gazebo has been extensively adopted in the academia, by professors and graduate students who have a strong background in computer science. More recently, the Gazebo team has been focusing on making Gazebo more accessible to a wider audience without a technical background, such as high-school students and engineers from fields other than computer science. Louise Poubel outlines some of the approaches being taken to broaden Gazebo’s user base by simplifying the process for developers to use its libraries and facilitating the contribution workflow for new contributors. This has involved improving the graphical interface, documentation, API, developer tools, and community discussion platforms.

Photo of Louise Poubel

Louise Poubel

Open Source Robotics Foundation

Louise Poubel is a software engineer at the Open Source Robotics Foundation working on GUI tools and user experience for the multirobot simulator Gazebo. Louise first got involved with OSRF through GNOME’s Outreach Program for Women. Louise grew up in Brazil and went to college in Japan, where she received her BS in electromechanical engineering from Chiba University. She also holds a joint MEng in advanced robotics from École Centrale de Nantes and Warsaw University of Technology, where her research focused on real-time, whole-body human motion imitation by humanoid robots.